Summary: Tyr adapts to his changeable relationship with Beka. Part two of three.
Pairings: Beka/Tyr, Beka/other, Harper/OFC
Disclaimer: Tribune owns all rights to Andromeda.
Spoilers: "Immaculate Perception".
Setting: During and after part one, "The Space Between," which diverges around the second season.
Feedback: Praise and constructive criticism welcome.
Archive: Ask first and I'll probably say yes.
Author's Note: Same warning as the first part, not necessarily a happy series. You can follow this one without reading part one, but it will make more sense if you do.
The Kodiak Cycle: Across the Divide
By B.L.A. the Mouse
Disappointment. In himself and his whole situation.
It had taken him less than two years of this lunatic quest to weaken him to the point of no control. Even that one indiscretion hadn't been enough. He could have been content to let it go as a temporary aberration, but he hadn't done even that small sensible thing. Instead he'd relived the memory of her body in his arms, warm and willing underneath him, and deliberately sought it out again.
Human. Weak. Inferior. Drug-addicted, aimless, promiscuous. Unnatural. Wrong. But the strange affair had lasted now for a year.
It would have been bad enough there. It was worse. Of late, in stray moments, he had had thoughts born of foolish desire, thoughts of him and her and a boy who held the fate of the galaxies in his small hands. Since he had realized, those thoughts had expanded to include an infant, nestled in her arms but undeniably of his blood.
It was impossible. It couldn't be allowed. But it was something that he couldn't push away, something that had to be addressed. And so his feet turned to the Maru.
She hadn't heard him come in. Her music player was on, her eyes closed— an escape, perhaps. As he watched, she kept time with her finger against one of the legs left uncovered by her tattered shorts. Her body had yet to visibly betray what was no longer a secret. He wondered, idly and quickly quashed, when it would.
Still she hadn't realized his presence. He stepped again, deliberately loud, and her eyes flew open in apparent surprise. She turned off the music and gave him a weak smile. "I wondered when you'd be here."
"We have things to discuss." He stayed distant, wary of her ability to entrap him with her body.
The smile faded away entirely. "Like how you let Rommie tell me when it has to be yours?"
This was true, the timing making anyone else impossible. "I assumed you knew and were simply not ready to broach the topic. That is not, however, what I wanted to say."
"I don't think there's anything else to say." She shrugged and started to reach for the player again. "Trance wouldn't do it if I asked her, but we're going to be at a drift with decent medical places in a few days. I'm going to need you to help with the cost."
He was agog at what she implied. To think that she would plan so easily… He found his voice as she picked up the device again. "You would end it?"
Such a heavy sigh, and now he drew closer, seeing at last the weariness and desperation in her shadowed eyes. "What else? I— we— never planned this. The Andromeda is no place to raise a kid, and neither is the Maru right now." She looked around at the customary shambles of her beloved ship. "And where would a half-Nietzschean even belong? There would be nowhere for it. And—" here she swallowed, painfully, and he reached for her, "and I couldn't do it. I don't know how." She gripped his hand tightly, an indicator more than anything else of her thoughts. He gave her a moment with them before speaking again.
"Beka." She looked at him warily. "I feel I should tell you this." He almost didn't have the courage for the rest. "I am… leaving the ship soon. Within months. There is a planet, with allies." He had no doubt that she would surmise this as the reason for his disappearance on Cygnus. "It could be a place," he finished finally, quietly. He left then, not looking back, and letting her think.
It was not a surprise to see the sideways glances of the Kodiak, to hear the murmurs, the nights that he walked the community with Alexander. Only the geneticist kept his silence, having seen Tyr's second son's DNA, but even he betrayed his doubts with his eyes. To have a half-Human child, that he acknowledged and cared for, one whose mother had left him so young, brought him no credit in the eyes of his people.
Tyr had had hopes, in the beginning. When she had first arrived, round and days away from giving birth, she had willingly stayed in his room. Though she cited comfort, when he had reached for her that first night she had come to him as she had before. She had smiled at him and held his hand through the protracted labor when her time came, had rocked and swayed the infant those first few difficult days, had hugged them both tightly and seemed to have tears in her throat when she said goodbye.
But she had not returned for a year. When she did, his hopes had withered; she had refused his overtures, had not known her child. It was months more before she returned to try again. He had stayed by her while she was with their son, but within an hour Tyr had called Scylla to take him away for a few moments. Beka had sat on the bed, shaking her head and as frustrated as he had ever seen her. "I told you. I can't do it."
He had sat next to her, surprised when she accepted his arm. "If he knew you better, it would be easier. Besides, young children are… fractious." The pang that he felt when he realized that he would never know if his firstborn had been at this point was an accustomed thing, but no less painful for it. "It takes time." She had snorted disbelief, his kiss had been intended as reassurance, and a new desperation had entered the familiar dance.
It had relieved something as well, however, and altered more. They had talked more, as not before, and worked to a new understanding. While the visit did not end uneventfully, it had not held more crises.
Another six months had passed before she came again. Aided by video and picture archives, Alexander had greeted his mother this time with open arms. Even if Tyr had had hopes of her staying longer, however, his new wife made that impossible. Pele was a political marriage, only five months his wife and three months with child, and not yet comfortable in her new role. She had not been pleased with his second son's existence, unaware of his first son's existence as she was, and had barely tolerated his explanation of his and Harper's children as investments in the pride's future. Discovering his ongoing affair with Beka had resulted in a storm of tears, only remotely appeased by the excuse of maintaining alliances much like his alliance with her pride, and she had made the days uncomfortable, such that Beka had been eager to go. Harper had only with difficulty talked her out of cutting the trip short, captivated as he had been with his own new son.
That, at least, was a success that Tyr could congratulate himself on. Adam proved strong and healthy, and as he grew he showed signs of reasonable intelligence; before his second birthday, Scylla was carrying another boy. Harper's enjoyment of his children was obvious, his visits more frequent than Beka's and likely to begin with treats spilling from his many pockets, not just for his own offspring but for others as well. Tyr had wondered at his easy acceptance of a Nietzschean partner and children, the genetic engineering all of the embryos were subject to, but Harper's response had reflected a more Nietzschean mindset than he himself perhaps had realized. His children were reasonably safe and adequately fed, they had the assurance of a better immune system and general health than he enjoyed, and the promise of the slaughter of the Drago-Katsov was in their future because of their existence. Tyr also thought, though he did not voice this, that Scylla and Harper had come to care for one another. She sat with the married women frequently, though she wore no helix, and Beka had reported a marked decrease in his pursuit of women elsewhere. Most telling of all was their proximity during his visits and the way their scents commingled when she was not fertile.
Tyr often wished for a similar relationship between him and Beka.
Now he approached the Maru. Beka hadn't been back for three months, and neither he nor Alexander had been looking forward to the visit. After the disaster of before, he did not appreciate the prospect of having to soothe again Pele's ruffled feathers, or Branwen's, his third wife, or any of the other pride leaders. Least of all did he look forward to having to soothe his son, who still understandably harbored feelings of betrayal. Tyr was somewhat appeased by her solitary appearance as she left her ship. "There is no one else?"
Her whole posture was defensive. "Harper wanted to come, but he couldn't get out of something Dylan promised him into. He sent stuff with me for Scylla and the kids."
"I wasn't asking about Harper."
"No." She licked her lips, looked to the side. "No one else. Is he still upset?"
"Apologies may still be in order." He stepped forward, feeling for her apparent dismay. She had, after all, lost both a potential mate and a measure of her son's trust. "I assume—"
"He's not coming back. Ever." And her eyes flashed fire. It had been at her initiative, then. Tyr nodded. She sighed in the ensuing moment of silence. "I am sorry. I thought he was fine with the idea, he told me he was, he just… wasn't fine with the reality of it."
Privately, Tyr thought that was an understatement for the man who had, upon meeting her child in the flesh, retreated to the Maru and threatened to leave without her. It was a good thing that Beka had maintained a measure of caution and not given him the codes. "And I must ask, where is he now?"
"I dumped him on Pierpont."
"Where so many of your ex-lovers reside."
She gave him a wince of a smile. "You don't have to hunt him down and kill him, you know. He never saw any of the location information for here, and I never told him you were Kodiak."
"Then I will grant him a stay of execution." He searched her eyes. "You are doing well, yes?"
"I'm fine. I cursed him, kicked him out, and threatened him with painful death if he ever comes near me and mine again."
She still looked faintly pained, and the urge to embrace her was purely impulse. He condemned his body's predictable reaction to her proximity as she melted into his arms. It had been almost a year for the two of them, involved with another man as she had been, and both his wives had been uninterested of late, possibly because of her last visit. She laughed quietly, with little real humor, against his chest. "Feel like comforting me, Tyr?"
"Because I think odds are that Alex won't be available for me to see for another couple of hours, and I could use some comfort right about now."
He took again what she offered so freely.
All three of them— Beka, Harper, and Tyr— had been on the Andromeda for a conference of allies. Tyr had taken along Alexander, to see Beka; Ra, at Pele's request; and Adam and Franklin, at Harper and Scylla's. All four boys enjoyed the time not only off-world but with their parent or parents, despite the claims by the conference on that same time, and it had been a tired but happy twosome that Harper had taken off to bed down in his quarters and a similar pair that Tyr had seen to bed himself. As soon as he had been satisfied that they would stay there, he left for Beka's room.
Clad in a towel, with skin and hair still wet, she'd let him in and returned to the bathroom to comb her hair, talking quickly and aimlessly about the day through the open door. He'd taken a position on the bed, watching her legs beneath the towel and not entirely listening until one statement, and the more thoughtful tone of it, caught his attention. "Alex is getting tall. I think he's grown a couple of inches since the last time I saw him."
"He has. He's also broken several things through not realizing that." Tyr spared a smile at their son's gawky coltishness.
Beka shook her head, sending water droplets flying, and set down the comb. "I don't think I reached that point anywhere near his age."
"Nietzschean children mature faster." He stood as she walked out of the bathroom to stand in front of him. "They are in bed, I thought you might be interested to know, and the ship is under orders not to let them wander."
"That is interesting." She let him draw her close and kiss her, but placed a hand over the tuck of her towel when he reached for it. "I think I should tell you something."
"It can't wait?" It wouldn't be another man, or she wouldn't have let him in until she was more covered, and he suspected she was interested or he would not have been able to kiss her.
"Not really, no." He raised an eyebrow and waited. "I, uh, don't have an implant right now."
It took him a moment. He knew she relied on a contraceptive implant, though not the type that Alexander's conception had proven unreliable. Without it… "Is the timing such that it could be a problem?"
She tilted her head, considered his chest. "It could be?"
"So we limit ourselves." Not as appealing a prospect, but not without its charms, either.
He felt a tickle of uncertainty with the way she looked at him. He sat down on the bed again, pulling her down beside him with the towel only barely in place. It took effort not to consider only that and what she seemed to be promising. "Perhaps you might explain."
"I… I've been thinking. I've missed a lot with Alex, you know? But the Commonwealth is bigger now. I can get away more. He's growing up fast, though, and—"
Certainty dawned. "And you're considering another."
She snorted. "It's stupid, isn't it? All those years of trying not to. And if I think about it I realize how bad an idea it still is. But I don't know, maybe it's biological or hormonal or something, if it just happens…"
"Beka." The feel of her lips against his fingertips was a distraction in itself. "I have told you before. I would be glad of any child you chose me to father."
He had spent that night and the next in her quarters. A month later, on a trip of alliance-building, he had taken two nights away from his purpose: one to visit Tamerlane and one spent in an anonymous drift hotel. The month after they had both been unavoidably elsewhere, but the next she had come to the Kodiak. Within weeks he had received a message of good-natured complaints regarding the nausea-inducing qualities of Harper's cologne.
That conference had been a year ago. Now Tyr sat at the edge of one of the largest practice mats. When he had time, he enjoyed watching the next generation of the pride honing their skills, especially when his children were among them. Today Adam and Alexander had been paired in a practice bout, a not-infrequent occurrence. The two half-Humans were smaller than the other Nietzschean children their age, though Scylla's height made up for Harper's lack of stature. Their competency was comparable, however, Harper's quick mind and Beka's reflexes apparently having been inherited as they ran through the set routine of attacks and blocks.
Ra was in the same group, only steps away, and Pele was watching him closely from her position as he worked at the same routine. Tyr had offered her a seat by him, but she had chosen to sit instead with several of the other mothers to nurse Loki. It bothered him slightly that, while she willingly bore his children, she harbored little affection for him personally. It was a small complaint, given that she had been a loyal mate to him and mother to more than one baby of his, and he had known this for years, but it was in high contrast to the happiness his fourth wife, Selene, showed in his presence. He pushed that thought away now, choosing to note the additional maneuver Adam added to the routine. Alexander blocked it efficiently, so he decided not to call attention to it in the moment, but he would address it later.
Tyr looked to Harper, to see if he had noticed the improvisation, but the engineer was exhorting his daughter to hold still, using as he was her back as a surface to jot something down on a small flexi. He finished in seconds, the flexi disappearing into a pocket, and swung the little girl up in his arms so she could better see her brother. Tyr wondered if Harper had considered the offer to remain in an official position within the pride; he harbored little doubt that the main draw, if not the deciding factor, would be proximity to Scylla and their children. As he considered that, Harper glanced over at the main door of the gymnasium, and Tyr caught the movement of Beka entering in his peripheral vision.
Beka's visits had become more frequent over the last several months as her stomach grew, this current one to last until well after their daughter was safely delivered, a process he dreaded after the remembered long hours of Alexander's birth.
Now he rose to his feet as he saw her stop just inside the doorway. There was a ripple of movement on the mat as several of the boys noticed her entrance and then returned to the practice; a few did not notice at all, something to discuss with them later. One didn't turn back in time, fetching an unblocked clout to the head that sent him to the mat, and the instructor called a halt to the lesson while he determined if there was any injury. Tyr was pleased to note that neither of his sons fell into a category that required attention. The lesson resumed quickly with the fallen but presumably undamaged child stood back up and resumed his place.
Beka came over to him slowly. "Sometimes I forget," she smiled at him when he guided her to a chair, "how seriously you guys take this stuff."
"A moment of inattention can make the difference between life and death. The universe does not stop for anyone." He watched critically as she eased down. "Did you rest at all?"
"Some. Izzy's not inclined to let me." Even as she said that, he could see motion under her shirt and she exhaled sharply.
"Foot in the lungs. She's been doing that all day." She let him rest his hand on her stomach to feel his child rolling and thumping. It didn't matter how often he'd experienced it, the sensation still amazed him, and he wished that he had been able to go through it with Freya as well. After a moment, Isabella settled, and he pulled his hand away reluctantly. He ignored the look that he was getting from Pele, knowing that he'd behaved the same way through all her pregnancies, as well. If Branwen were on-planet instead of visiting her pride, he'd be hovering equally over her.
"She'll do well in her physical lessons."
Harper coming over— and Valentina's vocal enjoyment at the change in perspective— interrupted them. "You doing okay, Beka?"
Tyr hid his amusement at Beka's grumbling over everyone fussing, instead taking Valentina when the little girl stretched out her arms to him. He liked Harper's children generally, although they were more rambunctious than his own. Apparently Harper encouraged loud activity and occasional subterfuge, things that Tyr doubted Scylla thanked him for. Valentina, for example, was bouncing and yanking on a braid for leverage; Tyr disengaged her fist but didn't release her, holding her hand in his while he listened to the good-natured ribbing between the two Humans.
"I still can't believe you let him get you knocked up again."
"Uh-huh, and how long's it gonna be before you and Scylla are working on number six?"
Harper grinned sheepishly. "A lot longer than between four and five?" He reached out for number four again and Tyr gave her back.
"Where are two and three, anyway?" Beka asked over the clamor as the lesson drew to its conclusion.
"Three's back with his mother and five. Two's class's up next." Adam came over and Valentina squealed with delight, flinging herself at him. Adam was apparently used to this and caught her easily. Alexander was behind him, laughing at something with Ra. They were about the same in size, despite the age difference, but Alexander was built along Beka's more slender lines. The joking lasted until they stood in front of Tyr, waiting as he was with his arms crossed and face stern, then they straightened up and became serious, anticipating his displeasure. Then he cracked a smile.
"You both did well, but, Ra, you need to remember your defense. You neglect it far too often." Ra nodded solemnly, then smiled again. Before he asked the inevitable question, Tyr said, "Yes, you can go to the armory. Both of you. Let your mothers know and stay out of the way." Beka gave him a jaundiced look, but received Alexander's one-armed hug well enough, while Ra rushed over to Pele.
"Me, too?" Adam asked Harper, giving Valentina back to him. She didn't seem to mind, as Franklin's class filing in gave her something to focus on.
"Yeah, sure, knock yourself out."
Tyr caught the boy as he tried to rush by. "In your next lesson, please refrain from improvising unless told to." Adam nodded, pulled free, and ran off to join his friends.
"No fun, Tyr," Harper said, mockingly solemn and shaking his head.
"How else is he going to learn to cover his ass?" Beka asked, definitely not seriously.
Tyr growled at both of them and sat back down next to Beka, reaching over to place a hand on her stomach as Isabella started moving again.